Howell, C. P., Cheyne, S. M. 2019. Complexities of using wild versus captive activity budget comparisons for assessing captive primate welfare. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 22(1), 78-96.
Activity budget comparisons between groups or individuals in the wild and those in captivity are commonly used to determine the range of wild-type behaviors that nonhuman animals in captivity perform. These comparisons are conducted with the view that individuals displaying a greater range of wild-type behaviors have enhanced welfare. Such comparisons have a greater appeal when it comes to primates because increased levels of anthropomorphism toward primates lead to welfare concerns. However, the validity of such comparisons has not been assessed. From the reviewed literature, some of the main complexities identified when defining “good welfare” using activity budgets were the ideas of behavioral motivation and adaptation, obstacles when using the wild as a benchmark for good welfare, study methods causing possible variances in behavior, and social and environmental factors. It is proposed that such influencing factors would be controlled for adequately in future studies with the use of multiple indices to measure welfare and methods that infer positive emotional states. It is hoped we can then build evidence of an animal’s emotional state and allow welfare to be inferred to a higher degree.